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Thames Valley Police to bring back Custodian Helmets

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld, has today (14/03) announced that Thames Valley Police will be bringing back Custodian Helmets.

Police officer in custodian helmet
Police officer in custodian helmet

The helmets have not been a part of the official uniform for Thames Valley Police since 2009 when male uniformed officers were provided with uniform caps instead.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Anthony Stansfeld said: “I have felt very strongly for a number of years that officers patrolling the streets of Thames Valley need to be more visible. I believe that wearing the custodian helmet not only increases visibility but also makes them more approachable and provides greater reassurance to the public. The custodian helmet is an iconic symbol of British policing, still used by a number of metropolitan police forces, and I am delighted that they will be returning to the streets of Thames Valley.”

Francis Habgood, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police commented: “We have carried out a limited trial on the use of custodian helmets in Reading and the feedback from both officers and the public has been resoundingly in favour of bringing them back. This is something that the Police and Crime Commissioner has been very supportive of and I can confirm that I have approved the initial order for new helmets.

“The helmets will be provided to male uniformed officers and will start to be rolled out over the coming months.”

Female officers will continue to wear their uniform bowler hats.

Feedback received during the Reading trial:

  • “There is overwhelming support from colleagues regarding the custodians. I have received comments such as “you really look the part”, “they look so much smarter”, and “you look so much taller”. I remember the days when he had the custodian. I have been instantly reminded of sense of pride and tidiness that comes with it. It is also much warmer, cosier and does not get blown off by the wind!


  • In regards to members of the public…I’m seeing some pointing and strangely more people are saying good morning! I suspect this is because I don’t look like a traffic warden with the custodian on. I get a sense that people are seeing me more, noticing I’m a police officer. I know that’s odd when I wear high vis jacket and flat cap but the flat cap does not look great, people worldwide associate the custodian as an identifying feature of a British police officer.”


  • “Had a lot of good feedback from members of the public, everyone has commented how much better and professional we look with the custodians, mature residents have stated that they felt safer with the high visibility as it reminded them of Police as they should be, a positive outcome from everyone.”


  • “After not being issued a custodian, I wore one for the first time this morning in Reading Town Centre. After being sceptical about its practicality/place for it in modern policing I have changed my views completely. The public love it, and I was approached by numerous people both young and old excited to see it. The general feedback: “it’s a lot smarter”, “you look like a proper British bobby”, and “they have to bring it back”. I agree there’s a time and a place for it - but high visibility town centre patrols are enhanced by wearing the custodian. The benefits far outweigh the negatives, and I would be fully supportive of bringing it back for foot patrol.”


  • “I saw some custodians today in the town centre and it does give the general public a feeling of stability and safety. There's something really symbolic about it. Really hope it gets fully rolled out.”


  • “I have been trialling the return of custodial helmets, I have received positive feedback from many officers, stating that it’s a lot more professional. The general impression I have from the public is when on foot patrol we are more visible and identifiable. No one has anything negative to say, everyone really wants them back.”


  • “The helmet is comfortable. I feel good wearing it. It increases visibility. It is much better than a flat cap or baseball cap. Members of the public like the sight of an ‘old-fashioned bobby’ walking on the beat. In my opinion it would add value to neighbourhood officers who patrol on foot.”


Editors Notes

  • The initial cost of the helmets will be less than £30k but this will drop dramatically year-on-year as only new officers will need to be supplied with this element of their uniform.